The Cincinnati Bengals are on their way to the Super Bowl! Obviously, getting to the Super Bowl is, in itself, very impressive. But when taking into account that the Bengals were 2-14 in 2019, and then 4-11-1 in 2020, it makes it that much more unlikely.
The New York Jets went 2-14 in 2020, and they finished this season at 4-13. Does this mean the Jets should be Super Bowl Contenders next year? What does the Bengals Super Bowl bid mean for the New York Jets?
Super Bowl Contenders? No, But…
The Jets need to be in playoff contention next year. It happened with the San Fransisco 49ers in 2018-19, and now it is happening with the Bengals. It is entirely possible to go from a top-five pick and then be in the playoffs within the next two seasons.
With Robert Saleh having a full season under his belt as head coach, his system needs to be fully understood by his defense. Being a defensive coach, the offense will need to be fully understanding of Mike LaFleur’s offense.
Additionally, after watching Joe Burrow slice and dice his way through the Las Vegas Raiders, Tennessee Titans and now the Kansas City Chiefs, the main objective this offseason has become extremely clear: get as many playmakers on offense for Zach Wilson as they possibly can.
The Bengals skill position players are arguably the best in the NFL. Ja’marr Chase, Tee Higgins, Tyler Boyd, Joe Mixon even C.J. Uzomah, are all incredible playmakers that Burrow has been able to thrive with. Even without a competent offensive line, he gets the ball out so quickly because his receivers are always open, and he was only sacked once in the AFC Championship Game.
Fixing the Defense
At the risk of this becoming an offseason plan, the Jets can copy the Bengals model for rebuilding their defense. A couple of low-round draft picks gave them big snaps this season, but they also were smart with where they spent their money in free agency. For example, Trey Hendrickson finished this regular season with 14 sacks, just one less than the combination of Quinnen Williams, John Franklin-Myers and Sheldon Rankins.
On top of that, players like Chidobe Awuzie, Larry Ogunjobi, Eli Apple and Mike Hilton have all played meaningful snaps for the Bengals and done very well. The Jets need to be smart but aggressive in improving a historically bad defense from 2021.
And they have the money to do it. By releasing a few players, such as Ryan Griffin, Greg Van Roten and even Sheldon Rankins potentially, the Jets could have around $50 million in cap space. That is a lot of money, the kind that allows them to do almost whatever they want this offseason.
In sum, the Bengals have shown that in two years, a team can go from top five pick to playoff contention (or more.) The Jets’ expectations should be playoff contention, and anything short would actually be a disappointment.
“From Our Haus to Yours“